Loftus opens the chapter by saying: The most important question of all when it comes to assessing the truth claims of Christian theism (or religion in general) is whether we should approach the available evidence through the eyes of faith or with skepticism (p. 81). He lays out his rationale for employing skepticim based on the following:
What John is calling for in the OTF is for a person to step outside of his particular religious belief system and attempt to honestly evaluate it as he would any other belief system. In other words, one must pretend that he is not a Christian, that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, and that Jesus is not the Son of God. Given those premises, then the individual should examine the Christian faith to see if it is a reasonable thing to believe.
One way to do this is to be willing to read critiques of the Christian faith by skeptics and nonbelievers (p. 86) This will force one to look at his faith as outsiders do. Another way is to do as Julia Sweeney of SNL fame did, put on No God Glasses and try looking at the world as if there were no God (p. 88). See if the world looks the same without God as it does with God. If it does, then consider the possiblity that there just might not be a God.
I had a Pastor once who said something to his congregation that caused me to think in these terms. He asked: What if there were no God, would our worship service look any different than it does today ? He didn't say it to cause people to doubt their belief in God; he said it because to him most Christians lived as practical atheists, i.e., they lived as if there were no God. He was trying to get his congregation to "practice the presence of God." However, it had a different effect upon me. As I pondered the question, I had to admit that the church service would be no different whether God existed or not.
In the last half of the chapter, Loftus deals with objections to his OTF. I will mention a couple of these objections. One put forward by Norm Geisler in his review of John's first book (WIBA) is that skepticism is self-defeating. Geisler maintains that if one takes the position of skepticism, then one would have to be skeptical about their skepticism and could never be certain that its the right approach. To me, Geisler's objection is misguided because he is playing word games. Of course by definition, a skeptic is not going to be certain. But is certainty the goal? There are precious few things, if any, in life that we are certain of. The goal is not certainty but it is a belief that can be justified. Skepticism should be the default position, if learning is to take place. Science is based on skepticism. One needs to test as objectively as possible the data to arrive at a reasonably certain conclusion.
Another objection put forward by Alvin Plantinga is that one cannot really transcend his culture in order to objectively evalutate it. Plantinga is correct. Total objectivity is never possible. People cannot totally divorce themselves from their prior experiences and knowledge. However, even though total objectivity is not acheivable, one can strive for it. One can honestly attempt to look at things as an outsider would and apply the same investigative criteria as one would to a different belief system. All Loftus is calling for is an honest attempt.